Why do dogs lick you?

DOGS make wonderful pets because of their unconditional love and affection, but that love is served with a side of slimy treats.

While dog licks can be gross, they’re probably trying to communicate something to you – here’s what your dog might be saying through his lick bits.

Dogs will lick you for all sorts of reasons, including to show affection


Dogs will lick you for all sorts of reasons, including to show affectionPhoto credit: Getty – Contributor

Why do dogs lick you?

We can’t read dogs’ minds, so we’ll never know the right answer.

But by studying their behavior, we can make some valued judgments.

They show affection

The first thing we can assume is that they do it to show us affection.

When dogs are young, their mothers spend a lot of time licking them – it’s a nurturing behavior.

So when domestic dogs lick their owners, they are mimicking that behavior and demonstrating their love for them.

This is also a sign of empathy, as dogs will try to lick their owners when they see them sad or crying to comfort them.

It even feels good for your dog to do this; Licking for affection releases pleasurable endorphins in their brain.

If your dog licks you regularly, it probably just means he loves you and shouldn’t be discouraged too much.

They want your attention

When dogs travel in nature and in packs, licking plays a big part in the way they communicate.

They can use their licks to let each other know they’re hungry, hurt, or just ask to be friends.

When your dog comes to lick you, you will respond by upsetting him or by talking to him, from here he can communicate what he needs.

By responding to the lick with the right solution, your dog will learn that the lick is an effective way to get you to help, and the behavior will be reinforced.

You taste good

It might sound a bit gross, but our skin is home to a range of tastes.

Leftovers from dinner, sweat, and even just the oil and bacteria that are naturally present on our skin; everything can taste good to a dog.

Make sure the spot your dog licks doesn’t leave any residue of anything inedible, such as B. melted chocolate, as this leads to a risk of poisoning.

If you notice your dog licking excessively somewhere, they’ve probably found a band-aid that’s particularly tasty, so just make sure it’s safe to lick.

Sometimes they just enjoy the taste they get from you.

As a reward

If your dog licks you, you may start petting, scratching, or even feeding them.

This reinforces the behavior and dogs will lick you more because they know they’re getting something pleasurable by doing so.

This can be a two way street as they want to show you that your response to their needs was correct so they lick you.

Dogs don’t understand that humans don’t lick to communicate, so they’ll just use the tools they know to talk to you.

you explore

A dog’s tongue is a particularly sensitive tool and can help them learn a lot about their surroundings.

When dogs lick you, they are absorbing sweat from your skin.

This contains water, ammonia, sodium, potassium, and a whole host of other things that dogs can glean information about you from.

They may just be trying to find out a little bit more about you.

You feel anxious or uncomfortable

Excessive licking can be a sign that your dog is feeling anxious or sick.

Dogs lick at different rates anyway, so watch for changes in this behavior to indicate something is wrong.

Your dog may be seeking comfort by licking you or trying to alert you that something is wrong.

If your dog starts licking a lot more than usual, you may need to see a vet and monitor what he’s eating.

Plain food will help with an upset stomach, but if they’ve eaten anything dangerous, you should take them to the vet immediately.

How can you prevent a dog from licking you?

While we trust dogs to mean well when they lick us, it can get annoying after a while.

They should not feel guilty as any compulsive behavior is not good for them, including licking.

Animal behaviorist Nick Jones says the most effective way to discourage your dog from licking you seems to be to remove the positive reinforcement of the behavior and communicate your disapproval to your canine companion.

If your furry pet licks you in the future, you should ignore them or walk away from them.

This can be difficult to do as none of us like to ignore our dogs, but remember this will benefit them in the long run.

If this doesn’t change your dog’s behavior and you feel like he has a real problem with licking, a behavior expert should be able to advise. Why do dogs lick you?


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